The Legacy of Dr. Abram Hoffer: Part 2
In part one of this newsletter, I touched on the two most common therapeutic uses of vitamin B3: treating mental disorders (bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, etc), and regulating cholesterol levels. That being said, like with any vitamin, B3 has many functions, and benefits, so let’s have a closer look at this impressive B-vitamin, before closing with a look at Dr. Hoffer’s personal nutritional regimen.
Vitamin B3, one of the water-soluble B vitamins, is found naturally occurring in many foods, though never in amounts sufficient for therapeutic uses. (Foods containing vitamin B3 include beef, fish, poultry, legumes, grains, and nuts.)
B3, on the most basic level, is required to convert food into glucose, needed by the body to produce energy. As well, it contributes to keeping the nervous system functioning normally, and can reduce fatigue (if one is B3-deficient).
It is at the next level of biological complexity, where B3 gets more interesting. Vitamin B3, in the form of niacin (nicotinic acid), or niacinamide (nicotinamide), is converted in the body into its main metabolically active form: the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). More than 400 enzymes require NAD to catalyze reactions in the body, which is more than for any other vitamin-derived coenzyme.
Given the body’s many requirements for NAD, it has been argued that the most important role of B3 is to make NAD molecules. NAD is essential for certain critical biological functions, including energy production in the mitochondria (i.e. ATP), and cellular repair and defense.
Forms of B3
Vitamin B3 comes in a variety of forms: niacin, niacinamide, flush-free niacin (inositol hexanicotinate), and the newest version, intermediate-release niacin.
Niacin has the drawback of causing a flushing sensation, and this can occur at doses as low at 50 to 100 mg. About 15 or 20 minutes after taking niacin, one will get visibly red, and slightly itchy, the effects lasting for about 15 or 20 minutes. This is caused by niacin releasing histamine, and while this sensation can be somewhat unpleasant, it is immensely effective at improving circulation.
The good thing about niacin is that you eventually build a tolerance to it, no longer flushing even at very high doses. When one stops flushing at 100 mg, they then up the dose to 200 mg, and when no longer flushing at that dose, add another 100 mg, and so on. Ultimately, one can take 1500 mg (the amount necessary for lowering cholesterol), or more, without any flush occurring.
Time-released niacin is still available by prescription, though no longer found in vitamin stores, as it was the only form of niacin linked to health problems (liver damage). Intermediate-release niacin works much like time-release, but is a newer technology and has no potential for side effects. It is the most effective non-flushing niacin, more so than inositol hexanicotinate.
According to Dr. Hoffer:
“Niacin and niacinamide are equally effective for schizophrenia, but higher doses of niacin can be tolerated without nausea. Inositol hexanicotinate (no-flush niacin) works, too, but not quite as well. Only niacin or inositol hexanicotinate can lower cholesterol; niacinamide does not.”
B3 Has a Special Place in the Cosmos
Remember how we are all stardust? Our planet, and our essential building blocks, all originated in space. Every element in the human body, every animal, plant and rock, is made from minerals forged by stars, and carried to Earth via asteroids, comets, and space dust.
But, so far, the only vitamin that has ever been found in outer space, is vitamin B3.
According to research, funded by NASA, “Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.Vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, is a precursor to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is essential to metabolism and likely very ancient in origin.” (Source)
Now, NAD is found in every cell in our bodies, and is essential for life, but more than just being essential, NAD also helps to prolong life. Research indicates that NAD has the ability to protect tissues, induce DNA repair, and can turn off genes that accelerate the aging process. (Source)
Given the mystery around the rise of consciousness in humanity, and understanding how intrinsic vitamin B3 is to healthy mental functioning, (not to mention the benefits of NAD), it is not a stretch to assume that B3 (a building block from space) may have contributed to humanity’s development in unfathomable ways.
Dr. Hoffer’s Daily Supplement Regimen
Let’s end with a look at Dr. Hoffer’s personal nutritional regimen, the supplements he took on a daily basis, and considered necessary for optimal health. While I might debate a few of his choices (for example, the high amounts of B-complex, NAC, and calcium), the man lived (at a highly functioning level) until the age of 91. So, clearly, at the very least, his nutritional program did him no harm.
Vitamin A -30,000 IU a day
B-100 Complex - 1 a day
Niacin - 1500 mg - 3 times a day
Folic Acid - 5000 mcg a day
Vitamin C - 1000 mg - 2 times a day
Vitamin D3 - 6000 IU a day
Vitamin E - 400 IU - 2 times a day
Selenium - 200 mcg - 3 times a day
Calcium/Magnesium - 650 mg Calcium/350 mg Magnesium- 2 times a day
Zinc - 50 mg per day
Salmon Oil (EPA/DHA) - 2000 mg a day
NAC - 1000 mg - 3 times a day
CoQ 10 - 100 mg - 3 times a day
Alpha Lipoic Acid - 200 mg - 3 times a day